Our FIRST, oh yeah thats right, our first road trip when we landed in Australia was the Great Ocean Road. I have so many things that I want to share and you will not believe how many things you can do in 10 days!
This is just a quick look into how we managed to fit so much into just 10 days and how you can too.
During our stay in St Kilda we were staying at Summer House Backpackers and right across the road was a little travel agents. We had only just arrived in Australia and had no idea how to tackle this beast of a country, we needed help. Cheapaz Travel were absolutely fantastic and so helpful when it came to planning our first road trip. They helped us hire a Kuga Campervan with Travellers Autobarn for 10 days!
The total cost to hire the van for 10 days was around $1125, an absolute bargain! For all my UK pals that’s around £600.
Now we have our transport, the next step was to put together the perfect plan! I don’t know about you but I am much more productive in a local coffee shop (or pub…) so I can get my head stuck in.
Having such a short time to cover, I recommend having a plan. Here is what we got up to and I hope it helps you choose some EPIC stops for your trip.
Bouncing off the walls with excitement we packed our bags and set off on the long commute to collect the van. Two trams, a train and a short walk later we arrived at the Travellers Autobarn workshop in Essendon.
If you want to avoid that long commute I would advise to stay near the pick up location the night before. In hindsight, I wish we had too!
Finally sitting in the drivers seat, what next? We noticed an Aldi across the road, the perfect location to stock up on groceries for the start of our adventure.
Grampians National Park.
Drive time from Essendon: 3 hours 20 minutes.
Known for gorgeous sandstone ranges, hikes and luscious waterfalls. Trust me it’s all true.
We passed through Ballarat on the way, you can stock up on any essentials there too!
Halls Gap Caravan Park
Price: $42 per night. Powered campsite.
As we drove around the park I said to George “I wonder how long it will be until we FINALLY see a Kangaroo? OMG THERE’S ONE”. This park is just full of Kangaroos and joeys, relaxing in between the cabins and soaking up the sun. The first sign that the Grampians are going to be pretty special.
Starting point: The Wonderland Carpark.
The Wonderland carpark is the beginning of the adventure to the pinnacle. There are so many walks to do, it would be incredibly easy to spend a few days here! We didn’t have much time so went on the Wonderland Carpark to Pinnacle walk (aptly named)
Wonderland Carpark to Pinnacle walk
Duration: 1.5 – 2 hours
The start takes you through the Grand Canyon, nothing like the American Grand Canyon. The rock formations are spectacular. It makes for a very interesting ascent to the top! The view at the summit is the highlight, and it is worth every step.
They have fenced off the edge of some of the rock so you can walk right to the edge and really take in the landscape.
A beautiful morning we sat outside and had a fry up to get us ready for the big day ahead.
The Boroka Lookout
Distance: 15km – 20 minute drive from campsite
A short walk which gives you grand panoramic views of Halls Gap and the East of the Grampians. We had an overcast day but made for great pictures!
Distance: 8km – 10 minute drive
You truely fall in love with the landscape of the Grampians with the abundance of lookouts to visit. Another top spot for photography and just to take in your surroundings. This spot is right next to the car park too so easy to access. Another viewpoint not far from here is the Balconies lookout.
Distance: 2km walk.
The walk short walk has fabulous views for as far as the eye can see and takes you to some incredible rock formations. Perfect spot for those misty mornings or sunsets.
Distance: 8km – 10 minute drive
What really surprised me about the Grampians is just how close everything is, one minute we are up in the skies observing the gorgeous landscapes. The next we are down near one of the largest waterfalls in Victoria, which flows all year round! Right next to the car park were a family of Sulpher-crested Cockatoos chatting away in the trees.
To get to the base of the falls is a short but steep 2km return walk, it is a well looked after track! You can’t help but be amazed when you reach the bottom the roar of the water is insane.
Tip: You can’t swim at the bottom of the falls as it has a lot of hidden rocks.
Fish Falls Hike
Distance: 4km return
This hike starts at the base of MacKenzie falls and follows the MacKenzie river. I loved this walk as it takes you away from the crowds and we had the track all to ourselves.
Stopped for lunch at the bottom of MacKenzie falls before taking the steep climb back to the top and viewing the falls from the platform above.
Port Fairy Caravan Park
Distance: 169km – 2hour 10 minute drive.
Price: $42 pn powered.
Our time in the Grampians is over and it’s time to head down to the coast. Arrived at Port Fairy Caravan Park before the rain hit. All the spots are private and surrounded by tall green bushes. It really didn’t feel like we were in a Caravan Park. I think rainy nights in the van are so cosy, as long as it stops by the morning.
Time to relax before hitting the coast tomorrow!
Looking back on this day it is amazing just to think how much we managed to do, I hope you’re ready it’s a big one.
Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve
Distance: 17km – 18 minute drive.
A short drive from Port Fairy Caravan Park will take you to the Tower Hill wildlife reserve. It is home to some of Australias most loved wildlife and it all sits within a large volcanic crater. I highly recommend taking the short loop drive around the reserve first as the views are beautiful to look in. Take some binoculars and see what animals you can spot from above!
This is a fantastic place to find some of your favourite Australian wildlife in their natural habitat. Especially Koalas, Kangaroos and Emus! We got stuck walking between two Emus along the Wagon Bay Loop track trying to find each other.
There was a beautiful Koala that we named Dusty up in the trees near the information centre hiding from the wind!
There are various walks to choose from and they all vary in length! Whether you want to do one or all of them – there is something for everyone!
Lava Tongue Boardwalk
Distance: 1.6km – 30 minute
Wagon Bay Loop
Distance: 1.5km – 30 minute
Journey to the last volcano Loop
Distance: 1.9km – 1 hour
Distance: 1.5km – steep 30 minute return
After a day in the mountains and a morning in the reserve it was time to hit the beaches of Warnambool.
Distance: 17km – 22 minute drive.
We went for a lovely walk starting at the Thunderpoint car park which took us right across the coast line to Pickering Point Lookout and along to Stingray bay. From Stingray Bay you can see all the way across to Middle Island, if you’re lucky you might spot the Maremma dogs that are protecting the little Penguins on the island!
Distance: 19km – 21 minute drive
A short walk from the car park will take you to the Hopkins falls view point, a beautiful wide waterfall along the Hopkins river. There is even a handy stand to attach your camera for the perfect photo!
Bay of Islands
Distance: 52km – 45 minute drive
Then we have hit the main strip of the Great Ocean Road, the highlights that we are all wanting to see. The Bay of Islands is the first stop. There are two main viewing areas where you can look out to the stunning landscape of limestone rocks against the glorious blue sea!
Bay of Martyrs
Distance: 4km – 4 minute drive
The Bay of Martyrs is another fantastic view point within this spectacular coastal reserve. From the Bay of Martyrs you can follow the 0.5 mile track to reach Halladale point, another perspective of the Bay.
Distance: 6km – 6 minute drive
A short descent to sea level with take you to the grotto. A small limestone cave that looks out to sea. Spray from the waves will give you a slight relief from the day sun and the view through has is beautiful!
Distance: 2km – 4 minute drive
Being from the UK we loved how a limestone bridge is named after the London Bridge! Australia are so creative with their names haha.
Distance: 1km – 3 minute drive
Another beautiful archway of limestone created from erosion of the sea cliffs. The natural world is pretty awesome!
Port Campbell Recreation Reserve
Distance: 7km – 7 minute drive
A perfect pit stop for the evening right in the centre of Port Campbell is a little recreation reserve which offer unpowered camping for $10pp/pn. They have nice amenities and a camp kitchen, what else do you need! Time to rest up ready for another big day ahead.
One place that we couldn’t wait to visit was Loch Ard Gorge, we wanted to go first thing to avoid all the crowds.
Loch Ard Gorge
Distance: 8km – 8 minute drive
This was top of our list for locations along the great ocean road for the beauty of the area, we had no idea of the history behind it and how it got it’s name.
Back in 1878 a ship name Loch Ard beached on the nearby Mutton Bird Island. **Read into a bit more**
Loch Ard gorge is right in the centre of a great walk! In one direction you will find Mutton Bird Lookout and Thunder Cave, known for the huge roar of the water as it crashes up the sea cliffs. In the other direction the walk will take you past Tom and Eva Lookout and to the Razorback
Distance: 4km – 6 minute drive
The next popular spot is the incredible 12 apostles. The constant erosion of the limestone cliffs over the years created caves in the cliff side. These cliffs then eroded into archways, which then evolved into the apostles that we see today. The beautiful colours of the limestone against the glorious blue sea is a must see! If you have time you need to see them at sunrise or sunset as they change colour with the sky!
Distance: 2 minute drive
Further down the road will take you to the Gibson Steps, the 86 steps will take you down to the beach below and give you a slightly different view of the apostles
The coastal viewpoints have been absolutely EPIC even though the weather hasn’t quite been in our favour. Time to head further inland to Great Otway National Park. Since I was a kid I have always loved taking adventures through the forest and this just made me even more excited.
Distance: 62km – 1 hour drive
A flowing waterfall right in the middle of a luscious green rainforest. You can either view Hopetoun from the top viewing platform or take the 200 step descent right to the bottom. This is a must do.
The Redwoods Otways Californian Redwoods (Sequoias)
Distance: 1.5km – 4 minutes
A few years ago George went on an insane trip to America to join some of his friends on their extended honeymoon trip. One of the highlights for them was Sequoia National Park in California, the pictures look absolutely incredible! Never did I think I would get to see my first Californian Redwood in Australia!! Just down the road from Hopetoun falls is a small forest that was planted in 1936 as an experiment, to see if they could thrive in Otway soil.
Otway tree top walk
Distance: 15km – 21 minutes
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the Otway rainforest is on the Otway treetop walk. $22.50pp it is worth the money. The rainforest and treetop walk is around 1.9km and will take you both along the floor of the forest and up near the treetops! I felt like I had stepped into another world, it was beautiful.
Don’t be scared to go to the top of the spiral tower either, the views are awesome!
If you fancy something a bit different you can book onto a Zipline tour, another way to experience the rainforest from above ground!
Apollo Bay Campground
Distance: 45km – 1 hour 30
Price: Powered $36 pn
On the journey down to Apollo Bay Caravan Park the maps took us on a big loop back along the main road, however our trusty Maps.me app had a different idea! There was a small road that we could see on our offline map that took us straight down through the rainforest and back to the coast. This was one of the most beautiful drives we have ever done, we were the only ones along this road and in the rainforest!
Apollo Bay Campground was only $36pn for a powered site and right next to the coast. Our spot was right at the top and overlooked the sea, like a little seaside holiday!
At the start of any trip I love to try and find all of the secret spots and the lesser known areas. One location that we managed to find was the perfect place for Koala spotting.
Koala Walk (Kennett River)
Distance: 24km – 30 minute drive
The drive to Anglesea provided some spectacular coastal views, made for such a pretty drive. Along the way we came to Kennet River and here you will find the Grey River Road. What makes this road so special is it holds such a large population of Koalas, making it easy to spot them in their natural habitat. I am not going to lie it took me a while to know where to look… but after you see one, you will see them all it feels very surreal.
There is a lovely cafe at the bottom to fuel up before carrying on your journey, they even had dairy free magnums!
Distance: 32km – 41 minute drive
A slight detour from the Great Ocean Road will take you to another serene waterfall of the region. There is a short walk to the first lookout or a steep decline down 230 steps to the base of the falls, worth every step!
Distance: 11km – 15 minute drive
Just behind Lorne you will find Teddy’s Lookout, a short walk which introduces you to stunning views of the Bass Strait and the Great Ocean Road. Keep in mind that it is a very steep incline to get to the top!
Distance: 15km – 20 minutes
The memorial arch signifies the start of the Great Ocean Road, built to remember the soldiers who worked on this road during World War I. The worlds largest war memorial in the world – now that is a top pub quiz fact!
Ferry to Sorrento
Distance 78km -1 hour 15 minute drive
Price: One way $85
Our Great Ocean Road trip may have come to an end but we aren’t finished yet! A ferry over to Sorrento to see what the Mornington Peninsula has in store.
Rye Foreshore Campground
Distance: 16km – 25 minutes
Price: Unpowered $27pn
Not far from the ferry took us to our campsite for the night, a perfect location ready for tomorrows activities!
This day was planned through recommendations from our friend Michael who has been living in Victoria for years. What incredible suggestions, thank you so much!
Peninsula Hot Springs
Distance: 9km – 15 minute drive
Price- $65 pp
The day started at Peninsula Hot Springs, a geothermal spa located in the Mornington Peninsula. After the past few days of hiking and sight seeing this was such a treat. We paid $65 each for the Bath House bathing and just WOW. From 5am – 11pm you have access to over 50 different bathing experiences. We started at the top pool which provides 360 views of the surrounding area and made our way down. It felt so luxurious and relaxing. They have lots of different treatments and packages for your stay, but you need to do it! It was perfect. We could have easily stayed there all day but more exciting things to see and do!
<Insert photo from Sarah Phone>
Distance: 48km – 40 minute drive
After lunch we stopped by the Moonlit Sanctuary, feeling refreshed after our bathing this morning it was time to see some animals! $26pp for entry and even though we were only there for the afternoon there were still plenty of talks and things to see! We also paid for the Meet a Koala encounter for $25 each and bought some kangaroo feed. It was so much fun to meet all of Australias best wildlife.
Lang Lang Caravan park
Distance: 38km – 30 minute drive
Our original plan was to get to Phillip Island by the evening but we had such a good day we didn’t want to rush. We found this lovely little spot on WikiCamps called Lang Lang Caravan Park. He even had a powered site left right next to the water front it was stunning. Watching the sunset over the sea with a beer in hand right next to the van, this is what dreams are made. Bargain at $35 pn
A Great Ocean Road trip isn’t complete without a trip to Phillip Island to see the penguins! It is a highlight on everyone’s list.
Distance: 60km – 50 minute drive
We drove straight the the Nobbies Centre on the Island and went for a walk along to the viewpoint. It was beautiful weather and a really nice walk too. We could see all the nesting boxes for the Penguins along the bank and we were incredibly lucky to see a few of them. They are so adorable! From here you can also purchase tickets to see the marching Penguins on an evening, unfortunately it was fulled booked on the evening we were staying so make sure to book ahead of time!
NRMA Phillip Island holiday park
Distance: 14km – 15 minutes
After having such a relaxing day yesterday we decided to make the most of the beautiful sunshine and spend an afternoon relaxing on Phillip Island. Set up the van for the night at the NRMA Phillip Island holiday park for $37 pn. Located right next to Cowes beach so a prime location!
Spent the afternoon sunbathing on the beach and drinking a few cold ones at Ocean Reach Brewery! I don’t know about you but we are suckers for a brewery!
A fantastic spot along the Victoria coastline is Wilsons Promontory National Park, it is the southern most location of mainland Australia! There are several different locations where you can camp in this national park but Tidal River Campground is the main visitor hub!
Tidal River Campground Wilsons Prom
Distance: 147km – 2 hours 10 minutes
Price: $33.70 pn
Early start to make our way down to Tidal River Campground. When we arrived the park is so big that you choose your own site, such a great idea! We went half way between the beach front and the amenities, best of both worlds right haha.
Distance: 7km – 25 minute drive
Hike: 6.8km return – allow 2 hours
Starting Point: Telegraph Saddle Car Park
Be ready for a very steep incline to the top of Mount Oberon but the 360 sweeping views over Wilsons Promontory make every step worth it. You feel the work out when you reach the top but the views, and breeze, at the top make you forget the hard hike! I could have sat their all afternoon, just breath taking.
Give yourself around 2 hours to complete this trip!
Tidal view lookout / squeaky beach
Distance: 6km return – allow 2 hours
This walk can be accessed straight from Tidal river campground, a flat walk through to squeaky beach. It lives up to its name, it really does squeak!
Tip: While staying at Tidal River, you aren’t allowed to drive around at night due to the wildlife in the area. Keep your food hidden and your eyes peeled from the local Wombats, so cute!!
Mount Bishop – Lilly Pilly Gully walking track
Distance: 13.5km – allow 3-4 hours
We were woken with a gorgeous sunny day, which calls for one thing. A big adventure around the area. To take a day off driving we left the van in the campground and started the Tidal River – Lilly Pilly Gully track from there.
We decided to take the loop walk in a clockwise direction to do the hard climb up Mount Bishop at the start before the day gets too hot. Walking through the bush and chatting away about all the adventures still to come, then to be greeted with this incredible view!
The loop walk was so pretty and it seemed like the best choice, we actually skipped out a lot of climbing and we were walking in the opposite direction to everyone else. Lovely boardwalks and wildlife to look out for.
Safety tip: Always be aware of snakes… WE CAME ACROSS OUR FIRST TIGER SNAKE, just asleep on the side of the walking track.
Our trip has come to end and what an incredible 10 days we had, we only wish it was longer! It took around 3 and a half hours to drive back up to Essendon from Wilson’s Prom and the Melbourne traffic was not a highlight…
Tip: You can always do this trip backwards to miss all the traffic on your return!
2 thoughts on “Great Ocean Road Trip in 10 days”
Fab. Will check this out later ??
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Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up!